Undergraduate Student

FloraProgram:
4A Mathematics/Chartered Professional Accountancy (Math/CPA), Co-op

Favourite co-op job:
Staff accountant, Ernst & Young, Toronto

Hometown: 
Wuhan, China

Extracurriculars:
Co-president of Waterloo DECA, Accounting and Finance Student Association (AFSA), residence council, badminton club, archery club, Mathematics Endowment Fund (MEF), and orientation leader for Mathematics and Accounting

Flora is a fourth year Math/CPA co-op student at the University of Waterloo. Through co-op, Flora has had the opportunity to figure out how different organizations and teams work to determine what will be the best fit for her in the future. Next term, Flora will be living in Velocity where she will work with industry professionals to start her own business idea.

Why Waterloo?

In high school I competed in the UWaterloo math contests run by the Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing (CEMC), so when I thought about going to university to study math, the University of Waterloo was one of my top choices. I chose the University of Waterloo mainly because of the co-op program. Co-op is a great way to find out what you like and don’t like, while getting hands on real work experience. The idea of alternating between co-op and school terms really stood out and appealed to me. Also, when I visited the campus I loved it. It just felt right for me and I could see myself going to school here.

Why did you pick your program? How did you know it was right for you?

I’m in the Math/CPA program, which is a special program unique to the University of Waterloo. It combines two things that I’m good at and I love: math and business. The program also had co-op, which was super important to me because I could get work experience that counts towards the Chartered Professional Accountancy requirements; so I am now one step closer to getting my full designation shortly after graduation.

I don’t know if this program is right for me or not, but I love it. All the people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had have shaped me as a person and defined my university experience, and I can’t imagine having it any other way.

What is your favourite thing about co-op?

My favourite thing about co-op is getting to meet new people and see how different organizations and teams work. Even within the same company, everyone you meet can come from different educational and career backgrounds so there is always something to learn from them. Co-op also gives you so many opportunities to try new things. As an auditor, I got to learn about different companies’ operating structures and financial processes, and as a reporting analyst, I got to analyze the performance data of various internal team so that was really cool. There has also been a large co-op community at the companies I’ve worked for, so there have been a lot of other students to connect with. I also loved it when my employers gave me the opportunity to volunteer within the community, and have gotten involved with events such as Junior Achievement and We Day Waterloo.

What is one thing you wish you knew before your first co-op?

There are a lot of things that I wish I had known before my first co-op! First of all, it’s okay to not know everything. Your employer knows that you’re still a student so don’t be afraid to ask questions and take everything as a learning opportunity. I also wish I knew that your first co-op job is not always definitive of your future career. I thought that everything I did for the rest of my career would be the same as my first co-op, but in reality I have done so many different things so don’t be afraid to try it all!

What is your plan for after university?

I haven’t fully decided what I want to do after university yet. I suppose it will depend on how my last co-op goes whether I go straight to work or complete the Masters of Accounting program. Next term I’m also living in Velocity where we have to start our own business ideas so who knows, maybe I’ll have my own business! There are lots of opportunities out there that I’m eager to explore so we’ll see where they take me.

What advice do you have for new co-op students?

Keep an open mind because opportunities are everywhere and you never know where your next job may come from. Be social and network with everyone around you. Lastly, find someone who has your dream job and ask them how they got there – it just might work for you too!

Affiliation: 
University of Waterloo

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